We live in a world that has become fixated on social media. Don’t get me wrong. Being able to connect with friends, family, and even strangers, at the touch of the button is incredibly alluring.
Even I have succumbed to the temptation of spending too much time scrolling through my feed. However, what is a harmless pastime for some may be extremely harmful to others.
Social media is notorious for making people feel inadequate. Even the most confident individuals may be harmed by the negative effects of social media.
There’s no doubt that social media can damage your self-esteem, considering the number of people who share their seemingly “perfect” lives online.
Taking a break from social media every once in a while can provide you with a fresh perspective on life and allow you to maintain your well-being. Here’s why taking a step back can help bring the joy that you have been missing back into your life.
The Negative Effects of Social Media
Social media isn’t all bad. It can be a lot of fun, but everything that glitters isn’t gold. Studies have shown that social media is linked to higher levels of anxiety and depression and lower self-esteem – especially for members of the LGBTQ+ community.
Many LGBTQ+ individuals turn to social media because it’s a place where they can truly be themselves without fear of social stigma. Unfortunately, anonymity leads to a rise in cyberbullying, which results in increased feelings of depression and higher rates of suicidality.
Social media is also particularly distressing for people of color. Between seeing traumatic events in the news and enduring racist people and institutions, people of color are feeling increasingly insecure about their safety and well-being.
Social media can also affect people who are dealing with pre-existing mental health issues, such as eating disorders. Exposure to images that are unattainable by normal standards can unconsciously trigger depressive and anxious symptoms.
You’re not worth less than someone else because you’re a member of an underrepresented community. No matter what you’re going through, you don’t have to endure it alone.
If you or someone you know needs immediate emotional support, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255. For a list of hotlines local to the San Francisco Bay Area, click here.
Why It Might Be Time to Take a Break from Social Media
Harmful, negative thoughts are easier to block out when you aren’t continuously exposed to them. If someone is trying to tear you down online, you have no obligation to fight back. If you’ve been stuck in the cycle of comparing yourself to others, you can find relief.
If you have strong feelings and emotions about something you saw on social media, this doesn’t make you a weirdo or an outcast. It’s not just social media, as some people like to say. Simply logging off doesn’t suddenly take those feelings okay. They might stay with you, which is completely normal.
The COVID-19 pandemic has majorly changed the way we communicate with others, but constant virtual stimulation isn’t the best for your mental health. If you’re feeling the negative effects of social media to any degree, this is a sign that taking a break can do wonders for you – and here’s why!
The Benefits of Taking a Break from Social Media
Taking time away from social media can help improve your mental health by allowing you to focus on yourself instead of other people’s lives. The best part about this is that it doesn’t even require much effort! A simple day or two offline can make all the difference in your well-being, and here are a few reasons why it’s worth trying!
As if it isn’t stressful enough to navigate living in the middle of a pandemic, social media can exacerbate these feelings. Is your phone the first thing you reach for when you wake up in the morning? This ritual has been shown to increase stress and anxiety.
Instead of reaching for your phone, get a good stretch in. After a full night’s sleep, stretching will promote blood flow through your muscles and help relieve muscle tension. Stretching can also increase serotonin levels, which means daily stretches can help you feel happier overall!
Spend More Time with Friends and Family
Spending less time online means you have a higher chance of forming new, healthy relationships and building deeper connections with the ones you love. This is especially important if being online often is a part of your job.
Even spending 30 fewer minutes on social media can have a positive impact on your well-being. Work-life balance is one of the keys to living a happier life, so make sure you give yourself time for both! If Facebook’s servers shut down one day, your friends and family will still be there.
Rebuild Your Self-Esteem
Take a step back from the constant validation of social media and rediscover who you are. People usually appear much happier and more successful than they are – especially if you have issues with your self-esteem.
High self-esteem is considered to be the most powerful indicator of happiness. You don’t need to compare yourself to anyone else. Work towards being a better version of yourself than you were yesterday, and keep in mind that there is no need to rush this process.
Nearly 80% of employees use social media at work, regardless of whether or not it is allowed. Social media has been shown to decrease productivity as it encourages mindless, passive consumption of information instead of actively engaging with the content.
Social media can also change your warp your perception of reality, leading to feelings of unsatisfaction out of the blue. Taking a break or limiting your time spent on these platforms can help you feel more content and realize what you are grateful for in your life.
Reconnect with Nature
Instead of scrolling through repetitive selfies on Instagram, go outside and breathe in some fresh air! As long as you are in a safe environment, spending time with mother nature can have therapeutic effects.
Studies have shown that individuals who spend at least two hours outdoors have the highest mental health benefit, but it’s understandable if that’s a difficult goal to reach. If you’re feeling down about something on social media, take a break outside for 15-30 minutes if you can.
Gaining control of your time can be unbelievably freeing. Get out of the social media rabbit role so you can re-discover who you are and what you value the most. Once you’ve received some clarity, go back to social media with a newfound sense of purpose.